What is difference between lie and lie down? Please explain with some examples.

  • The question should have been: what is the difference between lie and lay. Jan 16, 2014 at 7:16
  • @BlessedGeek Why, do you think?
    – Kris
    Jan 16, 2014 at 11:03

3 Answers 3


The verb to lie describes the state of being in a horizontal position.

I often lie in bed for hours before falling asleep.

Why are you lying on the floor?

The verb to lie down describes the action of going from an upright position to a horizontal position.

You should lie down if you're feeling dizzy.

She lay down on the grass and went to sleep.

For the verb form differences between to lie (be horizontal), to lie (tell an untruth) and to lay (to put flat), see this article from Professor Pullum on Language Log.

  • -1 Please see the definition for lie down -- "to place oneself or be" -- I wonder how this answer has been up voted!
    – Kris
    Jan 16, 2014 at 11:02
  • 1
    @Kris, you are right to point out that in its continuous form (She's lying down; he's been lying down, etc.) the verb can also describe a state.
    – Shoe
    Jan 16, 2014 at 14:40
  • Which makes this 'not an answer', right?
    – Kris
    Jan 16, 2014 at 14:41

lie down is a phrasal verb, an expression and an idiom.
phrasal verb/ expression:

1 to place oneself or be in a prostrate position in order to rest or sleep


2 to accept without protest or opposition (esp in the phrases lie down under, take something lying down)

lie 2, on the other hand, is just an ordinary verb like any other.

to be situated, esp on a horizontal surface ⇒ "the pencil is lying on the desk", "India lies to the south of Russia"


Lie, is to tell a none truth i.e. saying something that is false. 'I didn't eat your cookie.' (In this example you would have actually eaten the cookie)

Lie down, is to lay i.e. when someone says 'Lie down on the bed' they are giving you a command to lay down on the bed.

  • 1
    This answer does, in fact, describe a difference between the two terms. This answer could use a little fleshing out, though.
    – user867
    Jan 16, 2014 at 6:45
  • 1
    And keeping with the theme of unrelatedness, "lie down" also means "give up": I will not lie down -- I will stand and fight!
    – Martin F
    Jan 16, 2014 at 6:51
  • OED records first use of to lie = be in a prostrate or recumbent position in C11. It's misleading to suggest that sense only applies with the form to lie down. Jan 16, 2014 at 14:28

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